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FES Nepal in the Press -2002

Current issues discussed <Top>

KATHMANDU, Dec. 21: Tribhuvan University, Central Department of Political Science organised an interaction programme on, "Constitutional crisis and its resolution" here today.

Taking part in the programme, Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh K.C. said the issue of Constituent Assembly is democratic and it is not against the principle of the Nepali Congress or democracy, however, in present circumstances the Nepali Congress does not see any relevance of it.
Emphasising the need to restore the House of Representatives in order to bring back the present Constitution into its original state, KC said as the Maoists have laid off their demand for republic a political resolution should be looked for to bring them into the democratic process.

Nepali Congress central member Narahari Acharya expressed the view that in case of a consensus among the democrats, Monarch and the Maoists, we should go for the Constituent Assembly for safeguarding the achievement of the 1990 Popular Movement, multiparty culture, the sovereignty of the people and the country.

CPN-UML central member Bhim Rawal said for the interest of democracy impartial elections should be held following joint work and dialogue between His Majesty the King and political parties.
Stating that the Maoists have not guaranteed whether they would recognise the Constitution coming out of the Constituent Assembly, whether they would lay down their arms, Rawal expressed the view that a new constitution may lead to an adverse situation by doing away with the rights of the people.
Prof. Shyam Kishore Singh questioned why should we not go for the Constituent Assembly if it resolves the existing problem, however, there is no real ground that the Constituent Assembly would resolve all the problem.

Sarita Giri of Nepal Sadvawana Party, Prof. Krishna Khanal and Prof. Anantaraj Poudel pointed out the need for a national consensus in order to resolve the problem.

Chief of the T.U. Department of Political Science Mohammed Habibullah presided.

Source: The Rising Nepal (December 22, 2002)

Stand off between king, parties ‘dangerous’, warns Speaker <Top>

KATHMANDU, Dec 17 Speaker Taranath Ranabhat today warned the king and the political parties that the ongoing conflict between them could be "dangerous" to the country. Hence, he called them to stand united to resist the force of "republic seekers".

"The king and the constitutional forces should unite together to fight against the republicans in the country," the Speaker said. "But they are standing apart, which is very dangerous for the nation."

A ‘new political polarisation’ has cropped up in the country in the aftermath of October 4 royal proclamation, which is not good for the country, he said here today while addressing a workshop on "Management of Conflicts in Nepal", organised by Centre for Study on Good Governance and Democracy (CSGD).

He was critical of the ongoing military action against the Maoists in a bid to restore peace. "It is not the solution to solve the Maoist problem in the country, its solution should be sought politically," the Speaker said.

He pledged the king and the political parties to co-work to find a way out of the present crisis in the country, so as to discourage Maoists, even as he stressed on making the constitution active, effective and authentic.

The general secretary of Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist-Leninist, Madhav Kumar Nepal underlined the need to apply conflict resolution practices used in other countries to resolve political, social and economic conflicts in the country. He urged the civil society and political parties to look for remedies for ongoing conflicts in the country.

"The solutions of conflicts should be searched within poverty, inequality and discrimination in our society, since these are the root causes of conflicts," Nepal said.

The newly elected chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Pashupati Shumsher Rana suggested the need to analyse conflicts scientifically, while reiterating his party’s commitment to consensus among political parties, and then for agreement between the king and the political parties.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (December 18, 2002)

Note: The seminar was supported by FES Nepal.

‘SAARC: Concept to reality but still a long way to go’ <Top>

KATHMANDU, Dec 11, SAARC has provided a platform to build a strong edifice of regional co-operation by creating a regional identity and by forging a common position on many international issues, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Narendra Bikram Shah on Wednesday.

"This is no small achievement given the background and undercurrents of the region," said Shah, speaking at a seminar on the "Follow-up of the 11th SAARC Summit" organised here today by the Institute of Foreign Affairs in co-operation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

However, he admitted that enough was not done. "We accept that in today’s fast globalising world, this is not enough. Our potentials stand in a visible, palpable and stark contrast to the actual level of co-operation," pointed out Shah.

The minister noted that SAARC has grown from a concept to a regional reality. He suggested looking beyond the immediate present and set a far-reaching vision to uplift the status of the people of the region. Shah also called for effective implementation of the commitments, an aspect pointed out by experts as one of the big failures of the regional bloc. "Effective implementation SAARC decisions is the test of our commitment to and faith in the Association."

Commenting on the just postponed 12th SAARC Summit that was to be held in Islamabad in January next year, Minister Shah expressed the hope that the Summit would be held soon. "South Asia needs to be on the fast track of regional co-operation because there is no alternative in sight."

Three papers were presented during the seminar on the follow-up of the 11th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in January this year.

In his paper on economic co-operation in South Asia, Professor Gunanidhi Sharma said that although the agenda of economic co-operation got approved, the speed of co-operation "is very slow for the absence of good faith, and also for the dominant profit motive among the economically superior members, mainly India".

Noting that there was hardly any possibility of political co-operation among members, Prof Sharma pointed out that even the economic co-operation was eclipsed by bilateral treaties between members and the "conservative but the discriminatory outlook of the Indian bureaucracy which ...always ties up non-economic security issues with economic SAARC agenda".

He also pointed out lack of institutional support for effective implementation to realise economic objects, adding that the scheme was not in favour of least developed countries.

Sharma suggested declaration of SAARC as a visa free zone for the citizens in the region, convertibility of the currencies of member states and establishment of regional-level institutions of insurance, export financing and stock exchange.

Dr Mohan Lohani, in his paper on assessment of the 11th Summit Declaration and effective implementation, said that the challenge before the 12th Summit in Islamabad next month was to "critically review and provide the needed impetus for the effective implementation of decisions and programmes of action approved during previous summits".

Another paper, on poverty alleviation and SAARC Social Charter, by Prof Bishwa Keshar Maskay, called for the enhancement of legislative power of the people for evolving institutional management rules, monitoring compliance, and enforcing sanctions to make the whole development process sustainable.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (December 12, 2002)

Task force to suggest press laws coming <Top>

Kathmandu, December 8, Minister for information and communications Rameshnath Pandey today said that the government is going to form a new 'task force' within this week to introduce the necessary laws related to the journalism and press.

Speaking at an interaction on 'Democracy and Press: challenges' organised by Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and supported by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Pandey said that the committee would comprise senior journalists, 'proleterate journalists', media professionals and representatives from different press-related organisations.

He further noted, “The committee will study the reports related to media which were submitted before and itself conduct study. After that, it will tender the conclusive report to the government and the government will immediately implement the suggestions.”

“Most of the previous reports didn't get their way because of the financial constraint, but the government is doing its homework to allocate budget for the implementation of the particular report,” added he.

Reitering his commitment that the government wouldn't curtail press freedom, minister Pander stated, “Nobody can curtail press freedom as our constitution is one of the best constitutions regarding press freedom.”

Chairman of Nepal Press Council, Harihar Birahi, said that negligence of the concerned bodies to make laws regarding 'right to information' has made us suspicious of their intention.

He said: “Truth cannot not be concealed just by obstructing press freedom.”

Parashuram Kharel, media advisor of FES, said that the government should not provide cross-media licence for any organisation since it kills the spirit of media-pluralism.

“It is sorrowful to say that neither the government is creating favourable environment for the press to use complete press freedom nor the press itself is using the ‘Working Journalist Act’. It could not go as per the spirit of 'code of conduct', “ he added.

Chairman of Editors' Society Nepal Govinda Biyogi said that the press had a crucial role to restore democracy, however, it could not utilise democracy. Though 'entire press' could not foster as expected within the 12 years of democratic period, it is again high time journalists o safeguarded the 'paralised democracy', he said.

President of FNJ, Taranath Dahal, expressed doubts over the commitment of the minister adding, “The commitment is needed to materialise.”

“The journalists were suspicious about press freedom when the State of Emergency was

declared and the political scenario after royal proclamation on October 4 has added fuel to our suspicion.”

Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of Kantipur daily, said that the introduction of laws regarding 'right to information' would be meaningless until and unless the laws regarding 'right to access to information' is introduced.

Source: The Himalayan Times (December 9, 2002)

Working Journalists’ Act: Hardly working <Top>

Lalitpur, December 7, The Working Journalists' Act, 2051, which has been blamed to have several flaws, is picking dust in officialdom. The Act, along with necessary regulations, was formulated to protect and enhance professional rights of the journalists working in both government and private, print and electronic media.

"There are no practical difficulties in implementing the Act," said Tara Nath Dahal, president of the Federation of of Nepalese Journalists. "The journalists will go for struggle in order to get the Act implemented," he warned.

He was speaking at a seminar on 'Working Journalists' Act and Regulation in terms of its implementation' organised by the Nepal Press Union with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Dahal said that the concerned authority including publishers are not committed in implementing the Act. It has deprived more than 2,500 working journalists of their rights.

Clause 3 of the Act states that the administration of the publication houses should specify a working journalist's designation, rights and duties before registering it to the press registrar. But no press registrar has been nominated so far, Dahal said.

"Where can we implement the existing law without the concerned body for implementing it?" Journalists queried. "Moreover, the journalists are also not appointed according to the Act in private organisations; instead they are suppose to work on contract basis that has weaken the working journalists' efforts for their rights," they added.

According to the Act, a working journalist is one who works full or part-time in any publication and not the one who is affiliated with the administration of any paper. This has created a confusion for defining publisher and journalist.

Similarly, in 2053, the government had formed a committee to fix a minimum remuneration and compensation for the working journalists. The committee had also suggested the minimum salary for a working journalist. However, it has remained just as a mere paper work.

Also, the working journalists have not been able to unify them institutionally. No particular organisation of working journalists has been established except the organisations like the Federation of Nepali Journalists and Nepal Press Union.

"The press should not be motivated to making money alone; the journalists should have an environment to work professionally," said Kul Chandra Wagle, president of the NPU. He added, "Now the journalists are working as intellectual labourer."

"It has been six years since the Working Journalists' Act has been enforced but nothing significant has happened," said P Kharel, a senior journalist. He queried, "How can one fight for the voiceless people, who can't raise their own voice?"

Similarly, Harihar Birahi, chairman of the Press Council Nepal, said, "The rights can't be gained by asking." "We should go for struggle," he said.

Source: The Himalayan Times (December 8, 2002)

Stress on broadcasting council for FM stations <Top>

KATHMANDU, Oct 10. Media being an effective tool to convey messages, a seminar on the formation of a Broadcasting Council for FM stations was organised by the Society of Independent Journalists with the support of FES here today.

Highlighting the current scenario of FM broadcasting, Narendra Oli of Classic FM, said there are 24 FM stations operating in Nepal and another 24 stations waiting for licence clearance. With 40 working radio jockeys (RJs) and allied radio personnel involved with FM radio, he felt that a Broadcasting Council was necessary in the future. "The objective of the seminar is to bring about certain guidelines in the future," he adds.

Chief guest, Keshar Jung Rayamajhi, Chairman of Raj Parishad Standing Committee said that the present time is the age of technological revolution and media has an important role to play.

Speaking at the seminar, journalist P.Kharel said that running 24 FM stations does not necessarily mean freedom of press. He pointed out many loopholes like FM stations not having formal news bulletin, follow the dictates of Radio Nepal, and difficulty in obtaining press passes and many other restrictions from the Ministry of Communications.

"FM is said to be comprised mainly of youth but the participation by females is still less," said Bandana Rana, President of Sancharika Samuha. She raised questions on FM operation and functioning, saying that quality was more important than quantity, and whether it was possible to bring about development without gender equality from the planning stages.

The seminar was followed by a discussion among the FM Station managers, media personnel and representatives from the FM stations. According to the station managers, a ‘broadcasting council’ would benefit the FM stations in a wider aspect, provide freedom to air news and act as a control measure in the future.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (October 11, 2002)

Political factors blamed for failure of privatisation <Top>

KATHMANDU, Oct 6: Owing to non-economic factors, privatisation in Nepal has failed to meet its objectives, said economic experts at an interaction in Kathmandu Sunday.

Theoretically, there should be economic reasons for the success or failure of any economic programmes, but in the Nepalese context, they said, it was mainly the political factors that contributed to the failure of the privatisation.

They viewed lack of clear-cut policy, accountability and honesty are some of other key reasons behind the failed privatisation."

Reforms in policy and management are needed for a successful privatisation, they agreed at a function jointly organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the Nepal Forum for Human Rights and Development (NFHRD).

President of NFHRD Subash Pokharel, presenting a paper on 'privatisation in Nepal' said that the nation witnessed a de-industrialisation process after the nation blindly embaraced the privatisation policy following the restoration of the multi-party democracy.

"Privatisation in Nepal has been a complete failure because there was lack of fair practice and investment while transferring the management of the industries to the private sector, Pokharel said.

He said that the all industries which had gone into privatisation were now in loss.

In the paper he pointed out that open border, dependency on India, inconsistent industrial and custom policy have contributed to slacken the country's industrialization process.
"Privatisation cannot be a panacea to all sick industries," he said.

The government must evaluate the conditions of the industries after they had been privatised, he said.

Referring to the Harisiddhi Brick and Tile Factory, he said that the factory, prior to privatisation, sold 1000 bricks at Rs 250. The factory charges Rs 3,600 for the same number of bricks after it was privatised. "But the factory is still in loss." There is no need to privatize those factories which are in profit, he said.

Prior to the privatisation, there should be a real evaluation of assets and shares of the industries.

In the changed global context, the country should adopt the privatisation but there must be clear objectives as to why the privatisation is necessary. "Is it for the interest of the country or for the interest of the certain group, when even the privately owned industries are running in losses?" he asked.

From the chair, Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma said that Nepal must keep its social and cultural milieu while privatising its industries.

In the Nepalese context, the governments blindly adopted the privatisation policy to attract aid from the Western countries.

Source: The Rising Nepal (October 7, 2002)

Professional knack must for journalists <Top>

KATHMANDU, Oct. 5: Professionalism is an essential pre-requisite for the institutionalisation of a free press, said media experts at a programme in the capital today.

Although the Constitution of Nepal has provisioned the right to press freedom, journalists are unable to fully enjoy it in practice, they commented.
“Press freedom in the country is constitutionally strong but institutionally weak,” said Shriram Singh Basnet.

Basnet, a media expert, told this while presenting his working paper on “Condition of Nepalese Journalists and their challenges in Nepal” at a programme organised by Nepal Press Union (NPU).

The condition of working journalists in Nepal is miserable. They are financially weak and have no social security, Basnet added.
Commenting on the Working Journalist Act (WJA)-2051, he said that it was not very effective. The act is unable to address the working journalists’ problems. It should be able to include journalists from the electronic media, which the act has failed to do so far, he said.
The act has drawn a line between journalists working for the private and government media. A journalist is a journalist. They should not be differentiated, he added.

Talking about the journalist’s access to information, he said that a provision about the “duty to inform” should also be incorporated. The constitution has provisioned the right to information, but it is not implemented effectively. He also commented that Nepalese media lacked a journalistic culture.
Journalists Purushottam Dahal, Govinda Adhikari, Suman Dahal, Bed Prakash Kharel, Meena Subedi, Lila Raj Khanal and Shreesh Pradhan had commented on Basnet’s working paper.

Media adviser of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), which supported the seminar “Media professionalism and working journalists”, P. Kharel stated that all journalists should avoid political biases for the promotion of professionalism in journalism.

President of Nepal Press Union (NPU) Kul Chandra Wagle stressed on the role of the free press in strengthening democratic traditions and in enhancing professionalism. Journalists should show courage to disseminate information in a free and fair manner, he said.

Senior journalist and president of Press Council Nepal Harihar Birahi said that journalists should be ready to face any adverse situation in the country.
Federation of Nepalese Journalists president Taranath Dahal stressed on professionalism as an essential quality of a journalist.

Former NPU President Tara Baral, journalist Sri Acharya, NPU general secretary Tarun Paudel and Rastriya Samachar Samiti’s General Manager Purushottam Dahal also spoke on the occasion.

Source: The Rising Nepal (October 6, 2002)

Governance failure alleged for current crisis <Top>

KATHMANDU, Oct 3: If the country's politicians and other responsible authorities fail to take a "historic and bold decision to rescue the nation from the existing volatile situation in two or three months" it will fall into a crisis, said sociologists, economists and development activists. They said that the country was passing through a hard time and that everybody should think about the nation's very existence. The cost of any mistake committed by the government or any political party at this critical juncture will be very high, they added.

They also noted that lack of accountability at the decision making level and mounting corruption were the root cause of the social anomalies and people's frustration after the establishment of multiparty system in 1990. The domino effect of the unequal distribution of the national resources has pushed the nation into today's vulnerable condition, they said Unless the problem of unequal distribution of the nation's resources is solved, the problem will be more intense, said Dev Raj Dahal a sociologist.

Speaking at a programme on "Achieving Accountable Governance in Nepal" organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) Dahal underlined the need to address the main problem of social unrest and people's frustrations. The Maoist problem is the cumulative effect of the people's frustration that emerged due to the failure of governance, he added.

He further said that people at the decision making level should also be made accountable for the failure of any decision. Besides, there should an effective legal instrument to penalize the corrupt authorities at the decision-making level. The real problems of the majority of the people living in the rural areas should be addressed said Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma. Speaking in a similar vain development expert Shirish Rana underlined the need for equal participation of the people in the development activities.

Presenting a working paper on "Public Policy making in Nepal, public administration expert Dr. Hiramani Ghimire said that the policy making in a multi-centric state is a difficult exercise that needs to take into account the expectations and interests of different socio- political and economic power groups. The soundness of policies needs to be judged by their efficacy in meeting the socio-economic objectives, he said.

Another working paper presentator Bihari Krishna Shrestha, sociologist said that the political leaders and concerned authorities should take a 'historic and bold' decision to rescue the country from turmoil.

He also underlined the need for effective governance for conflict resolution at the moment.
Anada Shrestha, executive director of NEFAS said that accountable governance requires a strong political commitment as well as dedicated and competent leadership. The elections are not going to solve the people's problems if political leaders are not serious about the people and the nation. The programme was organized with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

Source: The Rising Nepal (October 4, 2002)

NTUC urges govt to withdraw decisions <Top>

KATHMANDU, Aug 9:Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) today flayed the government’s decision ‘to impose tax on labourer’s provident fund and gratuity and called upon the government to withdraw its decisions.

A press statement issued after NTUC’s two-day general meeting said the government decision to impose new taxes on the labourers has suffered the low-income population.

NTUC also flayed the government’s ignorance to ILO’s request to lift the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) imposed upon hotel labourers last year to curb their protest programme.

NTUC also demanded to fix minimum salary for the labourers, which it claimed, was static for many years. " Salary of the government employees have been increased significantly but the labourers’ salary is unchanged for years," the press statement said.

NTUC, which owes allegiance to Koirala-led Nepali Congress, has also criticised Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba for pushing the country to the elections at a difficult time. NTUC flayed Prime Minister Deuba’s move to declare himself a party president as ridiculous and pledged to back Koirala strongly.

It also flayed the state of emergency claiming it has targeted a large number of innocent democratic activists and teachers. "More than 22 teachers belonging to the Nepal Teachers’ Association alone have been killed after the emergency was imposed eight months ago," the NTUC press statement claimed.

NTUC also expressed suspicions over the freedom and fairness of the upcoming elections accusing the government of massively misusing the government resources for partisan use.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (August 10, 2002)

IPI call for protection of press freedom <Top>

KATHMANDU, July 26:The press has become the second largest target of the security forces under the emergency rule despite the government’s assurance last November although the emergency was stated to have been imposed solely to contain Maoist terrorism.

This was the consensus which emerged during a day-long seminar on emergency and press freedom organised on Friday by the Nepal National committee of the International Press Institute (IPI) and supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

Later, the IPI and the participants at the seminar decided to appeal to the government to shorten the term of the emergency. The participants also called upon the government to declare the whereabouts of the arrested and killed journalists and called for adherence to rule of law and transparency in such cases.

A paper presented by senior journalist Ram Krishna Regmi said the situation was very grave and could become worse if the emergency lingered. The paper also pointed out that there was palpable confusion in the country’s media as to the limits imposed on it and the kind of news it was expected to publish or not.

Responding to the paper, the participants said that while some hard-hitting news related to the Maoists and the army had escaped any government action, some innocuous-looking news has resulted in the arrest and harassment of the journalists. They called for clear guidelines on the issue. Some of the journalists working outside Kathmandu narrated their tale of harassment by the security forces. However, most of the speakers, instead of dealing with the topic, veered towards the reasons on why the emergency was imposed in the country.

The seminar was held so as to formulate some guidelines to ensure the freedom of the press, said Hemraj Gyawali, Chairman of Kantipur Publications and an advisor of the IPI, Nepal Chapter. "We will meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of the issues related to the freedom of the press. If any journalist has to be taken into custody, it should not be done in the middle of the night. Rather we will urge the government to issue arrest slip if at all it has to resort to such a measure," said Gyawali at the end of the interaction today.

The IPI advisor added that transparency and the respect for human rights must be ensured during any government action against the press. Earlier, highlighting the role of the IPI, Nepal, Gyawali said that its task was to ensure the rights of the press. He also praised the role of the IPI Nepal National Committee when the editor of Kantipur and the Managing Director and the Director of the Publications were arrested by the government in June last year.

While commenting on the paper, Sushil Sharma, the BBC correspondent in Nepal, said that there was unpredictable situation in the country under the emergency as far as the media was concerned. He said that the journalists in Nepal were facing difficulty in carrying out their tasks. However, he called upon the media to be responsible towards their job but dismissed the suggestion that the journalists have "two roles". "Journalists have only one role. Otherwise, our moral force will be dented and we should not be guided by government guidelines," said Sharma. He questioned whether the media should toe the government line in branding the Maoists as terrorists and change the term in future if the government ceases to call them so.

Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nayan Bahadur Khatri, said that press was the standard bearer of democracy and even the independence of the judiciary hinged on the independence of the press. He admitted that the NHRC had received complaints that the journalists reporting on the Maoist-related news have been arrested.

Pushkar Lal Shrestha, Chairperson of the IPI said that media was biased vis-à-vis political parties. He also called for making a distinction between the "genuine" journalists and the ones who are guided by other interests but operating in the guise of journalists. Shrestha revealed that four senior journalists were visiting Nepal on September 8 to have a first-hand experience of victimisation of the media in Nepal.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, July 27, 2002

Workers' right in SAARC discussed <Top>

KATHMANDU, July 21: Nepalese trade unionists and development experts have questioned the reluctance of the South Asian leaders to provide legitimate space to worker's rights in the SAARC Social Charter.

Though most of the member countries in the SAARC region have already endorsed the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and incorporated human rights provisions both in their constitutions and public policies, they have not given importance to the workers in the region, participants said at a seminar on Sunday.

Expressing concern over various labour-related issues in South Asia, they pointed out the need to raise common voice to protect the interest of South Asian workers in the international labour market.

Big nations of the SAARC -- India and Pakistan -- should pay an active role to protect the interest of South Asian workers, said Hiranya Lal Shrestha, a foreign relations expert.

Speaking at a national seminar on "Workers' Rights in SAARC Social Charter," organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Shrestha said that Nepalese workers should not be allowed to be replaced by foreign ones.

Referring to the government's foreign employment scheme in the budget estimates for the year 2002-2003, Shrestha said, "Such practice of sending Nepalese workers could drain the national market of skilled workers. It cannot be a long-term solution to Nepal's unemployment problem."

Shrestha, who is also a leader of the CPN-UML, further said, "The culture of respecting labour should be encouraged to establish the rights of workers. Besides, the change should take place in practice, not on paper." Multinational companies operating in South Asia should be made to follow labour laws, he said.

He also noted that inclusion of the worker's rights in the SAARC Social Charter would help promote the interest of workers in the region.

Prof. Guna Nidhi Sharma emphasized the need to protect the interest of workers in the informal sector as well. "Workers should be given social protection for better domestic labour force should be given priority in the workplace."

General Secretary of the General Federation of National Trade Unions (GEFONT) Bishnu Rimal blamed the SAARC leaders for undermining the problem of workers. "The voice of the worker has never been heard, and politics has always dominated labour issues." Only a united voice of the SAARC countries can protect the rights of workers in this region."

Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, a WTO expert, said that the labour issues should be tackled before joining the WTO.

Ananda Shrestha, executive director of NEFAS, said that the proposed social charter for the SAARC purports to establish a social foundation from which the people of the region have a regionable chance of seizing that opportunity for a dignified life, liberty, equity, health facility, primary education and basic infrastructure for development.

Earlier, development experts Dev Raj Dahal and Hari Uprety presented their working paper on "Worker' Rights in the SAARC Social Charter."

While presenting their paper they pointed out the need to work for social agenda. Given the backwardness in technology, the lack of capital and the abundance in human resources, South Asia will need to strike that strategic balance between capital and labour in regional cooperation.

Source: The Rising Nepal (July 22, 2002)

Social Charter

A voice has been raised to include worker's rights in the SAARC social charter -- a point that cannot be wished away. Besides the vast natural endowment, South Asia is rich in human resource. And, it is in the interest of the huge population of the region that the rights of the workers are clearly defined and protected by the governments concerned. How much the inclusion of these rights in the charter will actually improve the status of workers is another question, but the decision to draw up SAARC Social Charter was taken some 12 years back during the Colombo summit of the organization. The Social charter became necessary because a great lot needed to be achieved in the areas of poverty eradication, population stabilization, empowerment of women, youth mobilization, human resource development, promotion of health, and nutrition and protection of the children. Concerned at the trafficking of women and children within the region, the SAARC member states signed a regional convention to combat trafficking of women and children for prostitution on January 2002 at the Eleventh Summit held in Kathmandu. Also concluded was the convention on regional arrangements on the promotion of child welfare in South Asia which seeds to set up the appropriate mechanisms to help member states fulfill their obligations to the child in the changed context.

Years after the decision to formulate the charter it has yet to take a concrete shape. The charter can not only be tool to understand the full measure of the complexities, but also to devise a coherent and practical strategy to address the problem common in the SAARC countries. An institutional framework that formulates, coordinates and monitors the objectives set by the Social Charter is also another point that deserves a serious though. Without a strong and functional institution, the agendas of charter might just remain on papers, only to be resurrected during NGO conferences and SAARC summits. One is afraid this trend has to be naturalized by plausible actions. In the past, the summits have been postponed or canceled due to rifts between member states and at times the summit agendas have been allowed to get overshadowed by the issues directly concerning them. SAARC, being an association for regional cooperation, can not remain eclipsed with issues other than the ones that are likely to pave the way for meaningful cooperation in South Asia. A strong social commitment can be a very effective means to build cooperation. Similarly, a social charter that addresses all the relevant issues of the countries in the region its, therefore, indispensable as it has the promise to bring about the right kind of changes that are required to transform the lives and attitudes of all South Asians.

Source: Editorial, The Himalayan Times (July 23, 2002)

Participation must to strengthen democracy, say political analysts <Top>

Kathmandu, June 10. All political parties should unite in the goal for inclusive democracy, during the current time period when the country is going through such political upheaval, said Professor Krishna Khanal, whilst stressing "There is a crucial need for amendment to the constitution to ensure participatory democracy in the country."

Khan gave his presentation on 'Current political crisis and amendment process' at an interaction on "Participatory Democracy" that was organized by Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies here on Monday, where participants emphasized the need for the empowerment of common people.

"Though there have been various amendments to the constitution, there is still a need for qualitative improvement," said Daman Nath Dhungana, former speaker of the House of Representatives.

"The constitution should include problems of ethnic minorities and address issues such as women empowerment."

"The constitutional movement and security groups need to walk hand in hand for the benefit of the lay man," said Sailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, former foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Jhal Nath Khanal, leader of CPN-UML stressed the need for all political leaders to cooperate with each other, to ensure the enduring success of democracy restored in 1990.

"Leaders need to address issues of discrimination based on lingual and religious aspects," said Member of Parliament, Jijul Biswokarma.

"The question that needs to be addressed is whether there is space for discussion among public and prominent leaders in our democratic system," said Dr. Seira Tamang, presenting her paper on 'Rethinking Participatory Democracy in Nepal: Enlarging the Public Sphere'.

Other speakers at the programme demonstrated the need for all people to be able to share the fruits of democracy, emphasizing the fact that addressing the issues of all common people was the only way of attaining such an end.

Highlighting the importance of education as the real key for any significant change to occur, they also underlined the need for transparency in the political sector.

(Note: The programme was supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

Source: The Himalayan Times (June 11, 2002)

Speaker stresses ending anomalies <Top>

Janakpurdham, May 18 (RSS): Speaker Taranath Ranabhat has said that the political parties should remain committed and the civil society fulfil their responsibilities to end anomalies, aberrations and terrorism as they lead to destruction.

Speaker Ranabhat made this remark while inaugurating the two-day seminar on "The relevance of democratic socialism in Nepal" organised by Martyr Memorial Academy with the cooperation of Fedrich-Ebert-Stiftung here today.

Stating that democracy was introduced for transformation of the society, Ranabhat stressed the need to take concrete steps to end all forms of discrimination taking place in the society and democratic stability in the country.

Recalling that NC worker and famous litterateur Diamond Shumshere J. B. Rana had set an example of socialism by providing more than 1,000 bighas of land to the people during the Nepali Congress general meeting convened at Birgunj on 2012 B.S., Ranabhat urged the people to elect persons like Daimond Shumshere during elections.

The speakers expressed the view that speedy economic development could take place in the country if close and friendly relations are developed with India and China.

Member of the NC central committee Narahari Acharya said that the Nepali Congress has failed to fully accept the philosophy and principles of the late B. P. Koirala.

Another member of the NC central committee Bimalendra Nidhi said that capitalism and communism were incomplete in itself. Both these 'isms' have helped to bring him closer to socialism, he added.

President of the Martyrs Memorial Academy Dhundiraj Shastri, from the chair, stressed the need to hold discussions on principles in order to remove existing weaknesses.

Member of the National Planning Commission Dr. Minendra Rijal, Dr. Yagya Prasad Adhikari, General Secretary of the Academy Khilanath Dahal and Devraj Dahal of Fedrich-Ebert-Stiftung threw light on various aspects of socialism.

Source: The Rising Nepal (May 19, 2002)

Consolidate MP's declaration, say Dalits <Top>

KATHMANDU, May 10- Lawmakers and dalit leaders have asked the government to consolidate the Prime Minister's declaration in the parliament in last year's August of uplifting dalits at the earliest. Prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had declared an eight-point program aiming at solving the social, political, cultural and economic troubles faced by the dalits of Nepal.

They expressed urgency of expressing the official commitment on dalits at a program here in the capital on the Way of Execution of Prime Minister's Declaration about Dalit Upliftment jointly organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and ALHUREDS, an NGO working on human rights and human resources.

"The state and the whole administrative mechanism are biased not to work in favor of dalits," said Deputy Chairman National Assembly Ramprit Paswan Advocating for reservation for dalits in state opportunities he added, "Formulation of proper policies and real execution of them (on dalits) is the need of the hour".

Paswan who comes from a dalit family in terai labeled the government 'irresponsible' and morally exhausted' as it was not meeting its own vows.

"Political leadership has failed to consolidate the provisions of equality among all the citizens maintained in the constitution," said former Speaker and human rights leader Daman Nath Dhungana, who was also a member of the constitution drafting committee in 1990.

He flayed the double standard maintained by the government in terms of dalits and demanded for an immediate implementation of the declaration made by the government on them. However, Dhungana opposed the concept of reservation for dalits, women and other backward community members in state opportunities.

Dr. Alfred Diebold, Resident Representative of FES, hoped that once those reform initiatives postulated in Prime Minister Deuba's declaration were consolidated, the attempts of transformation of the Nepalese public sphere and equalization of every Nepalese in terms of citizenship rights and participation in development works would become meaningful.

Lawmakers Bijul Kumar Bishwokarma and Rishi Babu Pariyar also demanded for an immediate translation of the government's declaration on uplifting dalits.

Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio Rishi Kesha Gautam assured that the government was stick to implement the programs on dalits declared by the Prime Minister. "It would be possible as the government is assisted by all sections of the society," he said. Minister of State for Education and Sports Narayan Prasad Saud said that the government has installed fundamental infrastructures for development and is committed to include the backward communities in society into mainstream

"The so-called lopsided cease fire by the Maoists is just a hoaxing strategy for power accumulation on their part," added Saud saying, "They (Maoists) can not befool the government and the political parties for the second time in the name of peace talks".

Massage by Dr. Diebold

Privatisation policy dead failure <Top>

KATHMANDU, May 7: Participants in a two-day seminar on "Restructuring and Privatisation in Nepal: Developing Union Strategies for Industrial Policy" expressed the views that the privatisation policy adopted by the government of Nepal has been a complete failure.

The privatised enterprises have not been able to perform well, they said speaking at the inauguration of the international seminar organised by General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT).

"In a developing country like Nepal, privatisation should follow co-operatives concept thereby enabling ownership to several peoples," said Rajendra Raut President of Democratic Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT).

The concerned officials have not been able to deal with the restructuring versus privatisation issue before taking any decision, he added. While privatisation has not performed well, there are some complications with the restructuring also, said another speaker, Dev Raj Dahal, representing the Friederich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

The international participants added that trade unions throughout the world have been facing similar challenges brought by the economic and political factors in the world. "How the trade unionists come up with the ideas to face these challenges is the major issue," said Elizabeth Cotton, the Education Officer at International Federation of Chemical Energy and Mine Workers (ICEM).

Mukunda Neupane, Chairman of GEFONT chairing the session said that the government has to restructure the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and introduce suitable policy to trap the immense potential in the hydroelectricity.

Layla Tegmo-Reddy, Country Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Kathmandu and Pushkar Acharya, the General Secretary of the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) also spoke on the occasion.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (May 8, 2002)

‘New contract needed to save democracy’ <Top>

KATHMANDU, April 21 : Leaders of various political parties and intellectuals said here today that a new system is needed to accelerate development endeavours and resolve the persisting problems plaguing the country.

The leaders of the mainstream political parties also said a "new contract" is necessary to save the achievements of the democracy gained after the people’s movement of 1990.

"New contract is necessary for the effective continuation of the democracy," said Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, vice-president of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party.

Speaking during the National Workshop on Strengthening Decentralisation and Good Governance in Nepal organised by the Political Science Association of Nepal (POLSAN) in co-operation with Friedrich Ebert Stufting (FES), Dr Lohani said the immediate change is necessary to give outlet to the existing problems.

He also flayed the governments formed after the restoration of democracy for virtually failing to give power to the local governance.

Speaking on the same occasion, former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Nepali Congress, Ram Chandra Poudel, said, "New system is needed so as to have increased participation of the people in the governance."

Poudel also said due to the unnecessary political interference in the local governance system, the over all governing mechanism has been imbalanced.

General Secretary of the main opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxixt-Leninist), Madhav Kumar Nepal, said in a satirical manner, "There has been decentralisation of corruption and irregularities but not that of the good governance."

Once we detect defects within the system, we can unitedly go ahead for its solution, Nepal said. "We should be able to incorporate the marginalised sections of the society such as nationalities, women, dalits and the absolute poor in the development mainstream," he said.

Nepal also urged all the political forces to be ready for the rights devolution. Citing example of bad practice and evils of Bihar State of India, the UML chief ruled out the necessity of the federal system in Nepal.

Addressing the function, chairman of POLSAN, Bhuvan Pathak, said that the Village Development Committees (VDCs) should not be regarded as mere "committees" but they must be treated as "governments".

Resident Representative of the FES, Dr Alfred Diebold, said the foreign assistance for decentralisation and good-governance is only the backing; but the works should be done by the local people themselves.

On the occasion, various experts presented six working papers on decentralisation and good-governance.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, April 22, 2002.

Political Pundits misread me: Acharya <Top>

Kathmandu, March 14 . Encircled by hardcore politicians, former minister and constitutionalist Nilamber Acharya played the role of alone crusader in an interaction programme on Wednesday, since political pundits had deliberately “misunderstood’ his message.

Mr. G.P. Koirala, NC Chairperson and Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal, Sec.Gen. of UML
Acharya, one of the signatories of a statement against the change in statute is, however, not entirely against such a move. He has simply raised concerns over the timing of it taking place during the state of emergency, when the rights of the people have been curbed for the sake of nation’s security.

Not only Acharya, but also similar opinion holders such as former chief justice Bishwa Nath Upadhyay, head of the constitution drafting team-1990, have been branded as “reactionaries” by different political entities. The nomenclature does not put them in good light. But nonetheless, the duo has raised issues that cannot be tackled by politicians. “The constitution has laws like the ‘anti-defection act’ to prevent instability, where the ‘floor crossing’ MP is disqualified. However, the absurd habits of politicians have resulted in 11 governments in the past 12 years. What can a constitution do, when several parties emerge within a single party?” is one such question Acharya asked.

This is certainly a hard reality for the politicians to face, especially of the ruling Nepali Congress.

Civil society does not seem to be against constitutional changes, but looking back at track records, it is not yet a certainty that the situation will improve even after amendment that is being sought.

“Despite so many constitutional opportunities for good governance and possibilities for an improved situation, the intellectuals opposed to the change are asking for a guarantee that constitutional amendments will indeed be implemented,” said Dcv Raj Dahal of Centre for Nepal and Asian Study (CNAS).

However; he defines the constitution as a dynamic document. “A new aspiration of age evolves as a fresh generation emerges. The constitution should be able to reflect that or it becomes an outdated document, unmindful of global matters and changes that have taken place.”

Democracy transformed a monocentric society into a polycentric one, dividing power into many segments, says Dahal, “But there was no proper check and balance system, which subsequently brought the nionocentric style of ruling elite into play. Contrary to the constitution, parties themselves played an anti-political role.”

Dahal observes the 12 years of democracy as an era where intimacy between politics and law never emerged. “The spirit of the constitution could not he implemented as there was no active support for it from the politicians. Consequently, parties had no control over their own government.’

The constitution with a polycentric nature was already there, but the appropriate behaviour on the part of the political actors was not present. The constitution has to he a balance between the private sector and the civil society, opines Dahal with an example, “The Nepal Development Forum (NDF) meeting proved this, where the government could not formulate policies by itself and sought the help of the private sector.”

He is also of the view that there is, however, an urgent need to change the electoral procedures. “We have the system of ‘first-pass the post’, like in a horse race. In the case of Nepal, the ‘first-pass the post’ and the proportional representation system should go hand in hand.”

Despite collecting 7 per cent of the total number of votes cast, the CPN-ML that recently rejoined the CPN-UML, failed to win even a seat in parliament. On the other hand, parties like Nepal Sadhhavana Party amid Nepal Workers and Peasants Party with very few members in the parliament are posing as national parties. According to Dahal, this is a perfect example of ‘artificial representation’.

“Power should stream ‘up from down’ in democracy, but the case here is just the opposite. Voters from 18-30 age group are the deciding factors in elections, but not a single member has been elected to parliament from that group,” he said, claiming that older people are representing the young. That is ironic.

Source: The Himalayan Times (March 15, 2002)

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